Chris Uggen's Blog: demotion at bureau of justice statistics

Friday, August 26, 2005

demotion at bureau of justice statistics

The New York Times reported yesterday that "The Bush administration is replacing the director of a small but critical branch of the Justice Department, months after he complained that senior political officials at the department were seeking to play down newly compiled data on the aggressive police treatment of black and Hispanic drivers." Lawrence Greenfeld's demotion at the Bureau of Justice Statistics is the latest in a series of actions which, many criminologists contend, threaten the integrity of the nation's knowledge base on crime and justice. I certainly couldn't do my work without unbiased data on crime rates and incarceration, or unvarnished reports of funded research. I literally visit the BJS site every day and I'm continually astounded at the timeliness and quality of the work produced and compiled by this small agency. And I'm clearly not alone. Judging from the flurry of emails and calls I've gotten about this demotion, I wouldn't be surprised to see some high-profile op/eds and special sessions devoted to the issue at meetings. Fortunately, the large-scale study of police/citizen relations remains available for all to see. Click here for the "uncut and unrated" BJS report by Matthew R. Durose, Erica L. Schmitt, and Patrick A. Langan.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Brayden said...

What's sad is that I'm no longer surprised when I hear stories like this about the administration. It's hard to maintain the day-to-day outrage when the denigration of science by this presidency is so common.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

I guess the silver lining here is the vigilant press coverage and the fact that the department still issued the report -- the study remains available through an official government website and publication. For me, the toughest part to swallow is the intimidation that forces out non-partisan civil servants. Most sociologists take for granted the skilled professionals at the depts of labor and justice and elsewhere, working long hours for pretty mean wages. If we don't treat these government workers as "professionals," they'll surely find something more fulfilling or remunerative.


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